DWP pension letter mix-up

Today in the news we see another example of a government department playing rough-shod over private data. You’ll recall that last week we had the story about smart-cards being shared. Today we’re informed of the “bank and personal details of thousands of pensioners being sent to the wrong addresses.” Read the full story here.

I loved the comment from the spokeswoman of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). She says she wanted “to reassure the department’s customers that all the letters would be traced, and no more letters would be sent out until the problem was sorted out. ” Well, that’s ok then, no need to panic. Let’s all be British about this and accept that sometimes mistakes are made but be assured that your good ol’ government is doing its utmost.

So, what is the problem? It will doubtless be blamed on a “computer error” – in fact I predict that within three days of this blog such explanation will be in the press. I wont believe it. There has been a break-down in process and management to allow these letters to go out incorrectly addressed.

Unfortunately, unlike if a private organisation made this sort of mistake, the pensioners affected cannot take their business elsewhere and have no option but to accept the fate of their private data.

One last quick point, let’s keep in mind that there is a plan to combine the databases of the DWP, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) to facilitate the National Identity Register. There is some blog comment about this initiative here: http://www.no2id.net/news/newsblog/?p=520. This makes me very nervous indeed because if there is an inability to manage something as simple as posting account statements posted from the DWP then that does not leave much confidence in the ability to manage MY personal data when three giant databases each designed for three seperate purposes are combined.

I’m off on various travels again over the next week so blog entries may become infrequent. However, do check back often.